Al-‘Abbaas Ibn ‘Abd Al-Muttalib
The Provider of Water of the Two Harams : The Masjid Al-Uaram in Makkah and the Masjid An-Nabarvi in Al-Madinah
In the Year of Drought, the Commander of the Faithful Umar, along with a great number of Muslims, went out into a vast open area to perform the prayer for rain and supplicate Allah the Most Merciful to send down rain. Umar (RA) held Al-Abbaas’s right hand in his right hand and raised it towards the sky and supplicated, “O Almighty Allah, we used to ask You for rain for the Prophet’s sake while he was alive. O Almighty Allah, today, we ask you for rain for the sake of the Prophet’s uncle. So please send down rain on us.” The Muslim congregation did not leave until rain poured announcing glad tidings, irrigation, and fertility.
The Companions rushed to embrace Al-Abbaas and express their affection for his blessed status saying, “Rejoice! You are now the provider of water of the two Harams.”
What was the man who was called the provider of water of the two Harams really like ? Who was this man for whose sake Umar beseeched Allah to send down rain, notwithstanding Umar’s piety, precedence, and high station well-known to Allah, His Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the believers? He was Al-Abbaas, the Prophet’s r uncle. The Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) held him in great esteem. His reverence and love for him were inseparable. He always praised his good nature saying, “He is the only one left of my family.”
Al-‘Abbaas Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib was the most generous man of the Quraish. Moreover, he was good to his relatives and maintained the bond of kinship.
Al-Abbaas, just like Hamzah (May Allah be pleased with them both), was nearly the same age as the Prophet r, being only two or three years older. Thus, Muhammad and his uncle Al- ‘Abbaas were of the same age and generation as children and as young men. Being relatives was not the only bond that made them close friends. They were tied by the bonds of age and life- time friendship.
In addition, Al-Abbaas’s good nature and excellent manners complemented the Prophet’s standards of judgment, for Al-Abbaas was excessively generous, as if he was the sponsor of good and noble deeds towards humanity. He treasured kinship bonds and cherished his family and relatives. He put himself, his influence, and his money at their disposal.
Moreover, he was an extremely intelligent man. His intelligence was tinged with craftiness. This, along with his high station among the Quraish, enabled him to avert mischief and abuse against the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he began to invite people openly to embrace Islam.
As we have mentioned before, Hamzah treated the Quraish’s oppression and injustice and Abu Jahl’s arrogance and hostility with his devastating sword. As for Al-Abbaas, he treated them with a kind of intelligence and craftiness that benefited Islam in the same way that swords did to protect and defend its existence and victory.
A group of historians mentioned Al-Abbaas among those who were last in embracing Islam, for his Islam was not announced openly until the year of the Conquest of Makkah. However, others narrated that he was foremost in submitting himself to Islam but that he hid his faith.
Abu Raaffa, the Prophet’s (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) servant, said, “I was Al-Abbaas Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib’s slave when Islam dawned on the family of the house. Thus, Al-‘Abbaas, Umm Al-Fadl and I submitted ourselves to Islam, but Al-Abaas hid his Islam.” This is Abu Raaffa’s statement in which he witnessed Al-Abbaas’s Islam before the Battle of Badr.
Consequently, Al-‘Abbaas was a foremost Muslim. His staying in Makkah despite the Prophet’s (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) Hijrah was a premeditated plan which bore fruit. The Quraish neither hid their suspicions of Al-Abbaas’s real intentions, nor could they find a reason to show hostility to him, especially when he showed nothing but adherence to their way of life and religion.
When the Battle of Badr took place, the Quraish found their golden opportunity to unveil Al-Abbaas’s real allegiance. Al-Abbaas was a shrewd man who detected, at once, the evil plots which the Quraish resorted to to alleviate their anguish and loss.
If Al-Abbaas was able to inform the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in Al-Madinah of the Quraish’s plans and preparation, they would still succeed in leading him into a battle which he did not believe in and did not want. However, it would be a temporary success which would soon turn into a devastating upheaval.
The two armies met in combat in the Battle of Badr. The Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) called his Companions saying, “There are men of Bani Haashim and of other clans of the tribe who were forced to march forth. They do not really want to fight us. Therefore, if any of you meet one of them during the battle, I order you to spare his life. Do not kill Abu Al-Bakhtariy Ibn Hishaam Ibn Al-Haarith Ibn Assad. Do not kill Al-Abbaas Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, for he was forced to go forth in this battle.”
Now, the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was not favoring his uncle Al-Abbaas with a privilege, for it was neither the occasion nor the time for privileges. Muhammad r would not intercede on his uncle’s behalf — while the battle reached the apex of atrocity and while he saw his companions struck down in the battle of truth — if he knew that his uncle was one of the disbelievers. Indeed, if the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had been ordered not to even ask for Allah’s forgiveness for his uncle Abi Taalib, despite his endless support, help, and sacfor Islam, then how could he order the Muslims who were killing their own disbelieving fathers and brothers in the Battle of Badr to make an exception for his uncle and spare his life? It certainly does not seem logical or feasible. The only logical explanation is that the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) knew his uncle’s secret and hidden allegiance and his secret services for Islam. He also knew that he was forced to go forth to the battle. Therefore, it was his duty to save him as far as he was able to.
If Abu Al-Bakhtariy Ibn Al-Haarith won the Prophet’s intercession although he did not hide his Islam nor support it as Al-Abbaas did, it was because he refused to take part in the Quraish’s abuse and oppression against the Muslims. Second, he went forth to battle out of embarrassment and compulsion. Was not a Muslim who hid his Islam and supported it openly and secretly in many notable situations more worthy of this intercession? Indeed, Al-Abbaas was that Muslim and that helper. Let us go back in time to prove this statement.
When 73 men and two women from a delegation of the Ansaar came to Makkah during the Hajj season to take the oath of allegiance to the Prophet in the Second Pledge of Al-Aqabah and to make preparations with the Prophet for the imminent emigration of the Muslims to Al-Madinah, the Prophet r informed his uncle Al-Abbaas concerning all that went on between him and the delegation and about the pledge, for he trusted his uncle and treasured his opinion.
When it was time for the secret meeting, the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his uncle Al-‘Abbaas went to where the Ansaar were waiting for them. Al-‘Abbaas wanted to test their loyalty and ability to help and protect the Prophet.
Now, let us hear one of the delegation, Ka’b Ibn Maalik (RA) narrate the proceedings of this meeting:
We sat in the ravine waiting for the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) until he arrived accompanied by his uncle. Al-Abbaas Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib said, “O people of Khazraj, you are well aware of Muhammad’s lineage. We have prevented our people from abusing him. He lives here protected and supported by his people and in his own country, yet he prefers to accompany you and emigrate to Al-Madinah. So, on the one hand, if you are certain that you will be capable of giving him sufficient help, protection, and safety, then fulfil your pledge to the fullest. On the other hand, if you intend to forsake and thwart him after he has emigrated to you, then you had better show him your true colors now before it is too late.”
As Al-‘Abbaas uttered these decisive words, his eyes were surveying the Ansaar’s faces in order to trace and observe their reflexes and reaction to his words. Al-Abbaas was not satisfied with what he saw, for his great intelligence was a practical one that investigated tangible and solid facts and confronted them from all their angles with the scrutiny of a calculating expert.
Hence, he posed an intelligent question: “Describe to me your combat readiness and war strategy.” Al-Abbaas was astute enough and experienced with the nature and disposition of the Quraish to realize that war between Islam and disbelief was inevitable, for on the one hand there was no way that the Quraish would accept to forsake their religion, glory, and arrogance. On the other hand, Islam would not yield its legitimate rights to the power of falsehood. The question was. Would the people of Al- Madinah stand firmly behind the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) at the outbreak of war?
Were they, technically speaking, on the same level of expertise in the tactics of war, attack, and retreat as the Quraish were ? That was what Al-‘Abbaas had in mind when he asked them to describe their combat readiness and war strategy.
The Ansaar were firm as a mass of mountain as they listened to Al-Abbaas. No sooner had he finished asking this provocative question than the Ansaar spoke: “By Allah, we are given to warfare. We are men of soldierly bearing. We were raised on the tactics of war and trained to fight. We inherited excellent warfare expertise from our fathers and grandfathers. We have learned to keep on shooting arrows until the last one. We have learned to stab with our spears until they break. We have learned to carry our swords and strike hard until either we or our enemy is vanquished.”
Al-Abbaas was overjoyed as he said, “I can tell from what I have just heard that you are masters of warfare, but do you have armor?” They answered, “Of course, we have armor, shields, and helmets.”
Afterwards, a great and magnificent dialogue occurred between the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Ansaar, which we will narrate in detail later on. That was Al-Abbaas’s attitude at The Second Pledge of Al-Aqabah. Whether he had already embraced Islam or had not yet taken his final decision does not change the fact that his great attitude determined his forthcoming role in contributing to the eclipse of the power of darkness and the imminent dawn of Islam. Moreover, it sheds light on his outstanding stout-heartedness.
Finally, the Battle of Hunain took place, offering more evidence of the self-sacrifice of this quiet and compassionate man whose impressive and immortal heroism would be projected on the battlefield only under pressing necessity. Otherwise, this innate heroism would dwell in his innermost self, yet it would always be lurking there.
In A.H. 8 and after Allah had enabled His Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Islam to achieve the Conquest of Makkah, some of the influential tribes in the Arab Peninsula were enraged by the quick victory that this new religion had achieved in such a short time. Therefore, the Hawaazan, Thaqiif, Nasr, Jusham, and other tribes held a meeting and agreed to wage a decisive war against the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Muslims.
Now, we should not let the word “tribes” mislead us into underestimating the gravity of the wars that the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) fought throughout his life. We must not think that they were small-scale skirmishes in the mountains. On the contrary, these tribal wars, fought at the tribes’ strongholds, were far more difficult and atrocious than ordinary wars. If we bear this fact in mind we would not only have an accurate evaluation of the incredible effort exerted by the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions, but also a correct and trustworthy one of the value of this great victory achieved by Islam and the believers, and an illuminated insight into Allah’s guidance that was conspicuous in theirsuccess and victory.
As we have said, the tribes gathered in endless waves of fierce warriors. There were 12,000 warriors in the Muslim army. Twelve thousand? Who were these warriors ? They were those who, not a long time before, had liberated Makkah, dragging the power of polytheism and idolatry to the last and bottomless abyss, and had raised their flags across the horizon without rivalry or competition.
This was undoubtedly an unprecedented victory that made pride stealthily creep into the victorious Muslims. In the final analysis, the Muslims were only human beings. Their large numbers and great achievement in Makkah made them vulnerable to pride. Consequently they said, “We shall not be overcome by a small group.”
Their depending solely on their military power, solely and pride in their military conquest were unrighteous sentiments that they would quickly recover from through a painful yet curing shock which was awaiting them, for heaven was preparing them for a much more glorious and elevated end than war. The curing shock was a sudden large-scale defeat shortly after the two armies met in fierce combat. The Muslims at once supplicated Allah in humiliation and submission. They perceived that there was no fleeing from Allah, no refuge but with Him, and there was no power but His. These supplications flowed throughout the battlefield, turning defeat into victory.
Accordingly, the glorious Qur’aan descended addressing the Muslims: < … on the Day ofHunain when you rejoiced at your great number but it availed you naught and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight. Then Allah did send down His tranquility upon the Messenger and on the believers, and sent down forces which you not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers > (9 : 25 – 26).
On that day, Al-Abbaas’s voice and firmness were the most outstanding manifestation of this calmness and tranquility and of self-sacrifice. For while the Muslims joined forces in one of the valleys waiting for the arrival of their enemies, the polytheists were already hidden throughout the ravines with unsheathed swords. They wanted to take the initiative. Suddenly, they flung themselves into the battlefield and attacked the Muslims ruthlessly. This blitzkrieg shook the Muslims and made them turn their backs to the battle and run away without even casting a glance at one another. When the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saw the chaos that this sudden attack brought to the Muslim lines, he at once mounted his white mule and cried out at the top of his voice, “Where are my people? Come back and fight! I am truly the Prophet! I am the son of Abd Al-Multalib!”
At that moment, the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stood there surrounded by Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Aly Ibn Abi Taalib, Al-Abbaas Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, his son Al-Fadl Ibn Al-Abbaas, Ja’far Ibn Al- Haarith, Rabi’ah Ibn Al-Haarith, Usaamah Ibn Zaid, Aiman Ibn ‘Ubaid and a few other Companions (radhi Allahu ‘anhum).
There was also a woman who was raised to a high station among those men and heroes, namely, Umm Suliim Bint Milhaan. When she saw the chaos and confusion that the Muslims had fallen into, she mounted her husband Abi Talhah’s camel (May Allah be pleased with them both) and hastened towards the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). When her baby moved in her womb, she took off her outer garment and pulled it tight around her belly. As soon as she reached the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) , she gave him her dagger. The Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) smiled and asked, “Why do you give the dagger to me, Umm Suliim?” She answered, “You are dearer to me than my own father and mother. Kill those who turned their backs on you as you do your enemies, for they deserve the same punishment.” The Prophet’s face lit up, for he had strong faith in Allah’s promise, and he said, “Allah sufficed us against them and has been good to us.”
In those difficult moments, Al-Abbaas was next to the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) . In fact, he followed him like his shadow, holding the halter tightly and defying danger and death. The Prophet r ordered him to cry out at the top of his voice, for he was a stout and loud-voiced man, saying, “Come back and fight, O Ansaar people! Come back, for you took the oath of allegiance to Allah and His Prophet.” His voice sounded throughout the battlefield as if it was both the caller and warner of destiny. As soon as those terrified and dispersed Muslims heard his voice, they answered in one breath, “Here I am at your service. Here I am at your service.” They flung themselves into the battlefield like a hurricane. They dismounted the horses and camels which would not move and ran with their shields, swords, and bows as if they were pulled by Al-Abbaas’s voice. Once again, the two armies met in fierce combat. The Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) cried out, “Now it is time for fierce fighting.” It was really a ferocious fight. The bodies of Hawaazan and Thaqiif rolled down the battlefield. Allah’s warriors defeated the warriors who tranquility on the Prophet and the believers.
The Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) loved his uncle Al-Abbaas dearly, to the extent that he could not sleep when the Battle of Badr lay down its burden and his uncle was captured. The Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not try to hide his feelings. When he was asked about the reason for his sleeplessness, despite his sweeping victory, he said, “I heard Al-Abbaas moan in his fetters.” As soon as a group of Muslims heard the Prophet’s words, they rushed to where the captives were, untied Al-Abbaas, and returned to the Prophet and said, “O Prophet, we loosened Al-Abbaas’s fetters a little.” But why should Al-Abbaas alone enjoy this privilege? Consequently, the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ordered them, “Go and do that to all the prisoners.”
Indeed, the Prophet’s love for Al-Abbaas did not mean that he should receive special treatment that distinguished him from other captives. When it was decided that a ransom would be taken in exchange for the captives’ freedom, the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked his uncle, “O Abbaas, pay the ransom for yourself and your nephew ‘Aqiil Ibn Abi-Taalib, Nawfal Ibn Al-Haarith and your ally, ‘Utbah Ibn Amr and the brothers of Bani Al-Haarith Ibn Fahr, for you can afford it.” Al-Abbaas wanted to be set free without paying a ransom, saying, “O Mesenger of Allah, I was a Muslim but my people forced me to go forth in this battle.” But the Prophet r insisted on it. The Glorious Qur’aan descended to comment on this incident saying, < 0 Prophet! Say to the captives that are in your hands: If Allah knows any good in your hearts. He will give something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful > (8:70).
Hence Al-Abbaas paid the ransom for himself and his friends and returned to Makkah. From that point onwards the Quraish lost their influence over him and their benefit from his insight and guidance. Therefore, Al-Abbaas took his money and luggage and joined the Prophet (sollallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in Khaibar so as to have a place in the ranks of Islam and the believers. The Muslims loved, revered, and honored him, especially when they realized how much the Prophet r loved and honored him when he said, “Al-Abbaas was like a twin brother to my father. Consequently, if anyone annoyed Al-Abbaas, it would be as though he personally annoyed me.”
Al-Abbaas had blessed offspring. ‘Abd Allah Ibn Abbaas, the learned of the Muslim nation, was one of those blessed sons.
On Friday, the 14th of Rajab, A.H. 32, the people of Al-Awaalii in Al-Madinah heard a crier calling out, “May Allah have mercy on whoever saw Al-Abbaas Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib.” They realized at once that Al-Abbaas had died.
An unprecedented large congregation of people, such as Al-Madinah had not experienced before, accompanied the funeral procession to the graveyard. The Commander of the Faithful Uthmaan (RA) performed the funeral prayer. The body of Abu Al-Fadl was laid in Al-Baqii’. He sleeps comforted and delighted among the faithful who have been true to their covenant with Allah.